The Del Ray Business Association presented Dolce & Bean with the 2021 "Heart of Del Award" on Feb. 12. The annual award, given to the business that represents the heart and soul of Del Ray, is determined by a public vote of neighbors and customers.
"It's overwhelming -- I'm so humbled by this award," said Petros Ghebre-Egziabher, who opened Dolce & Bean on Mount Vernon Avenue in 2017. "I'd like to express my love to this community that has welcomed me and supported me."
"The things that people said about Dolce & Bean are exactly what this award was made for -- where do you go, when you walk in, that warms your heart. That's exactly what people said about Petros. Over and over, people said how welcoming he is, how he knows the kids' names, and that's really what makes a community," said Del Ray Business Association board member Gayle Reuter. "Petros’ caring and welcome nature makes you feel like you are his favorite customer each time you visit," said Del Ray Business Association President Lauren Fisher.
Patrons cited Ghebre-Egziabher's warm and welcoming spirit. "Petros is the nicest, most welcoming business owner -- he always greets guests with a smile! His spirit, even throughout COVID, has put a smile on my face, as well as lightened up the community atmosphere," wrote one nomination. "He takes the time to get to know all of his customers and has fostered a culture in his store of exactly what I think of when I think of the word 'community,'" wrote another.
Over 1,400 neighbors, friends and customers participated in online voting. Past winners of the award include A Show of Hands, Jen Walker of McEnearney Associates, Bobi Bomar Homes of Alexandria, The Neighborhood Pharmacy of Del Ray, Greener Cleaner of Del Ray, Del Ray Pizzeria, Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga, Caboose Cafe, Del Ray Cafe, Pork Barrel BBQ/Holy Cow/the sushi bar, and Taqueria Poblano, and Ms. Preeti's 7-11. A business cannot win the award multiple years.